Mike R 1965 Ford Mustang 2dr Convertible

Drive shaft disaster

In 1972, when I was a mere lad of 17, my '65 Mustang clutch began slipping badly. Diving into the job with virtually no practical knowledge, but an abundance of youthful enthusiasm, as well as a complete disregard for such unnecessary contraptions like transmission jacks, we plunged ahead. My buddy Jim and I somehow managed to remove the tranny by allowing it to rest upon our chests, squirming from side to side, and dragging it from under the car. We replaced the clutch right there in his dad's driveway, and somehow managed to align the input shaft to the new clutch and bolted it onto the bell housing. While I finished up connecting the linkage, Jim was busy snugging up the u-joint at the rear axle.

After we scraped all the grease off our hands and deposited it all at the bottom of his mother's kitchen sink, we decided to take the ol' Mustang out for a test drive. We picked one of our favorite rural roads to give it a thorough wringing out, which naturally meant a complete disregard for Southern California's speed limit.

I noticed a vibration at about 45, and using my boundless expertise I determined that the vibration would certainly diminish if we took the car up to about 85. But, alas, it was not to be. Unbeknownst to me, and to be discovered at the post mortem, my mechanically moronic friend had thought it unimportant to use a wrench to tighten the the drive shaft's u bolts to the yoke. Finger tight was good enough.

So at about 75 mph, there was a rather significant bang, followed by a most perplexing and unexplainable loss of acceleration. We drifted off to the side of the road, and discovered the drive shaft hanging forlornly, and utterly uselessly, from the transmission.

What to do? Miles from anywhere, nary a phone in sight, and stranded. Crawling under the car, we put our heads together and figured if we could just find a way to reconnect the drive shaft to the yoke, we could maybe limp home.

Opening the trunk, there were of course no tools. No spare u joints, if you can imagine. Just a couple of coat hangers. Hmm.

Wrapping a coat hanger around the shaft and yoke, we discovered that with careful clutch application and a top speed of about ten mph, our makeshift u joint would, with a few stops for readjustment, hold together long enough to get us home in just a few hours.

And do you know, that rat Jim never would own up to his mistake. He still owes me for that new u joint.

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